Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor
About Joe Hirsch
During a career that carried him from the eras of Citation and Native Dancer to the dawn of the 21st century, Joe Hirsch received every conceivable honor that could have been bestowed upon someone who considered himself merely lucky to be able to write about the sport he loved.
A grateful racing industry gave Hirsch both an Eclipse Award for Outstanding Newspaper Writing (1978) and the Award of Merit (1992) for a lifetime of service. His British colleagues recognized Hirsch’s international reach with the Lord Derby Award from the Horserace Writers and Reporters Association of Great Britain (1981). Hirsch won the Big Sport of Turfdom Award (1983), The Jockey Club Medal (1989), and was the 1994 Honor Guest at the Thoroughbred Club of America’s testimonial dinner. The National Turf Writers Association, which was founded by Hirsch in 1959, honored him with the Walter Haight Award for excellence in turf writing (1984), the Joe Palmer Award for meritorious service to racing (1994), and the Mr. Fitz Award for typifying the spirit of horse racing (1998).
The Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor at the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame is not the only institution that bears the imprint of Hirsch’s name. Press boxes at Saratoga Race Course and Churchill Downs have been named for him, along with the Joe Hirsch Breeders’ Cup Writing Award, the Joe Hirsch Scholarship of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational, and a major grass race run each fall at Belmont Park. Hirsch retired from Daily Racing Form in 2003 and died in 2009 in New York, at the age of 80.
The National Museum of Racing’s Joe Hirsch Media Roll of Honor was established in 2010 to recognize individuals whose careers have been dedicated to, or substantially involved in, writing about thoroughbred racing (non-fiction), and who distinguished themselves as journalists. The criteria has since been expanded to allow the inclusion of other forms of media.
The Honor Roll
Steven Crist (2010)
Steven Crist went from his Harvard graduating class of 1978 directly to work as a copy boy for the New York Times. Since pari-mutuel betting already was Crist’s passion, the leap in 1981 to the horse racing beat for the native New Yorker was only logical. Crist covered the cream of the sport’s races and personalities for the Times until 1990, when he left to help establish the Racing Times, a publication designed to challenge the primacy of the Daily Racing Form. The Racing Times made a mark but folded in less than a year upon the death of its publisher, financier Robert Maxwell. After a detour into racetrack management as a vice-president with the New York Racing Association, Crist became one of the principals in the 1998 purchase and virtual reinvention of the Racing Form as publisher, columnist, and eventually publisher emeritus. Crist is the author of five books, including "The Horse Traders," "Betting On Myself," and "Offtrack," a collection of short stories. His numerous writing honors include the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association and the Red Smith Kentucky Derby Writing Award. In January of 2017, Crist was presented an Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime achievements and contributions to racing.
Charles Hatton (2010)
Charles Hatton (1905 - 1975) was heralded far and wide as the first turfwriter whose prose elevated the daily coverage of horse racing to a lofty literary plane. Born in Indiana, Hatton worked for his hometown New Albany Ledger, the Louisville Courier-Journal, and The Blood-Horse magazine before joining The Morning Telegraph — forerunner to the Daily Racing Form — in early 1930. Hatton arrived at the New York-based publication just in time to cover the exploits of Bel Air Stable’s Gallant Fox, who swept the 1930 Preakness, Kentucky Derby, and Belmont Stakes in stylish fashion. Inspired by the feat, as well as the quality of Gallant Fox, Hatton took to print to urge the three-race series borrow from the British model and be dubbed an American “Triple Crown.” Although Hatton was best known for the Racing Form column he wrote until 1975, his most lasting impact may have come from the comprehensive “Year in Review” and “Profiles of Best Horses” he wrote annually for the American Racing Manual. In 1974, Hatton received a Special Eclipse Award for his contributions as a chronicler of thoroughbred racing.
William Nack (2010)
In an eclectic, colorful career that has spanned the eras of Secretariat to Zenyatta, William Nack (1941 - 2018) wrote about everything from politics and the environment to all manner of sporting endeavors. His kinship to thoroughbred racing began in his native Chicago, where he worked as a teenager for Hall of Fame trainer William Molter and laid hands upon Horse of the Year Round Table. After a tour with the Army and service in Vietnam, Nack went to work for Newsday, covering a variety of beats before landing the job as lead turf writer and, later, general sports columnist. In 1978, Nack joined the staff of Sports Illustrated as investigative reporter and feature writer. He won six Eclipse Awards for turf writing while at the magazine, and a seventh Eclipse as a freelancer for GQ after his retirement from Sports Illustrated, in 2001. Nack wrote three books, including a collection of selected works in "My Turf: Horses, Boxers, Blood Money and the Sporting Life," and biographies of Secretariat and Ruffian that were made into feature films. Among Nack’s other honors are the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association, the Alfred G. Vanderbilt Lifetime Achievement Award from Thoroughbred Charities of America, and the A.J. Liebling Award from the Boxing Writers Association of America.
Walter “Red” Smith (2010)
Red Smith (1905 - 1982), one of America’s preeminent sportswriters, was a Wisconsin native who worked for the Milwaukee Sentinel, the St. Louis Journal, and the Philadelphia Record before joining the New York Herald Tribune in 1945. The Herald Tribune folded in 1966, after which Smith found a prestigious home for his syndicated column with the New York Times. In 1976, Smith solidified his place in journalism history by becoming only the second sportswriter to win the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Although the entire world of sports was his beat, Smith held an abiding affinity for thoroughbred racing. The five collections of Smith’s finest columns are replete with racing stories, and horse racing returned the compliment, honoring Smith with an Eclipse Award for newspaper writing in 1973 and the Walter Haight Award for career excellence in 1977, not to mention the naming of a race at Belmont Park called the Red Smith Handicap. In his final column, filed for the Times shortly before his death, Smith tipped his love of racing once again by singling out Bill Shoemaker as one of the greatest athletes he’d ever met.
Russ Harris (2011)
Russ Harris (1923 - 2016) began his journalism career at the Canton Repository in his native Ohio following service in World War II. He became involved in turf writing and handicapping in 1957 at the Akron Beacon Journal, where he made his selections under the nom de plume Phil Dancer (an homage to his favorite horse, Native Dancer). Harris moved on to the Miami Herald and also worked summers for Daily Racing Form in Chicago, which led to stints as a official racing steward at Hawthorne, Arlington, and Washington Park. His next stop was the Philadelphia Inquirer, and then the New York Daily News, where Harris did double duty as a prolific racing writer as well as a popular public handicapper, including his greatest handicapping achievement on May 8, 1981, when he selected the winners of all nine races on the card at Belmont Park. Harris continued to put his opinions on the line through 2008, when he was the leading public handicapper during the Saratoga meet. In 2003, Harris was honored by his colleagues in the National Turf Writers and Association with the Walter Haight Award. Away from the track Harris spent time as a teacher, and in 1999, at age 75, he earned his Ph.D. from Lehigh University.
Joe Palmer (2011)
Joe Palmer (1904 - 1952) graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1927 and taught English composition and literature there from 1928 to 1932, then later at the University of Michigan before being hired as an associate editor at The BloodHorse. While at the publication, Palmer wrote Names in Pedigrees (1939) and was responsible for most of the work in Horses in the Blue Grass (1940) and The Thoroughbred Horses (1942). In addition, Palmer wrote the text for the 1944 through 1951 editions of the historically indispensible American Race Horses. In 1946, Palmer was hired as the racing writer for the New York Herald Tribune and became widely known for his syndicated column, “Views of the Turf.” During this period, Palmer also could be heard over the Columbia Broadcasting System as the radio network’s Turf Analyst. In 1953, a collection of Palmer’s columns was published under the title This Was Racing, edited by Red Smith, who wrote of his late colleague, “No man who wrote had more grace and charm.” The reverence in which Palmer was held by his peers is reflected in the naming of the Joe Palmer Award for Meritorious Service to Racing, which has been presented annually by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association since 1964.
Jay Hovdey (2012)
Jay Hovdey, a native of California, is a graduate of Arizona State University who joined the Los Angeles office of the Daily Racing Form as an editor in 1976. During a subsequent freelance career his work appeared in Reader’s Digest, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, and such thoroughbred racing publications as the Thoroughbred Times, the Horseman’s Journal, Spur, and Pacemaker International. After a period as national correspondent and columnist for the Racing Times and then The BloodHorse, Hovdey rejoined Daily Racing Form in 1998 as executive columnist. He is the author of four books on horse racing, including Whittingham: A Thoroughbred Racing Legend, Cigar: America’s Horse and Long Rein: Tales from the World of Horse Racing, and was a staff writer for the HBO dramatic racetrack series Luck. Hovdey has won five Eclipse Awards, Canada’s Sovereign Award, and is a two-time winner of both the David F. Woods Award for coverage of the Preakness Stakes and the Joe Hirsch Award for coverage of the Breeders’ Cup. In 1995, Hovdey was honored by the National Turf Writers Association with the Walter Haight Award for career excellence.
Whitney Tower (2012)
Whitney Tower (1923 - 1999) was a graduate of Harvard University who flew reconnaissance missions over North Africa during World War II before commencing a career in sportswriting with the Cincinnati Enquirer in 1948. He joined Sports Illustrated in 1954 as its lead writer on thoroughbred racing coverage and turf editor, where he teamed with the legendary jockey Eddie Arcaro on the seminal five-part series, “The Art of Race Riding,” published in 1957. In 1976, Tower left Sports Illustrated to help establish the high-end sports magazine Classic. He served as both racing writer and editor and won two Eclipse Awards for his own work in the magazine during the publication’s short-lived but highly-praised run. Tower, whose great-great-grandfather was thoroughbred racing pioneer Cornelius Vanderbilt, subsequently served for eight years as the president of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in Saratoga Springs and then its chairman for another 10 years. In addition to his Eclipse Awards, Tower received the Thoroughbred Racing Association’s award for magazine writing 1967, and collaborated on the historical work, “Saratoga: The Place and the People.”
Andrew Beyer (2013)
Andrew Beyer cultivated an interest in handicapping thoroughbreds while attending Harvard University in the 1960s and ended up spending much of his time at the races at nearby Suffolk Downs. His early career as a sportswriter took a significant turn in 1970 when he began writing a horse racing column for the Washington Daily News. At the same time, Beyer was developing and refining a handicapping system based on speed figures that burst upon the scene in 1975 with the publication of his first book, Picking Winners. In 1978, Beyer joined the Washington Post as horse racing columnist, a vantage point from which he offered insightful commentary and analysis on all aspects of the racing business until his retirement from the staff in 2004. Beyer continued to write columns for the Post and other publications, such as the Daily Racing Form, while maintaining control over the Beyer Speed Figures product that made him a household name in gambling circles and fundamentally changed the way in which a thoroughbred’s performances were analyzed. In 1998, Beyer was honored by the National Turf Writers Association with the Walter Haight Award for career excellence. In January of 2017, Beyer was presented an Eclipse Award of Merit for his lifetime achievements and contributions to racing.
Kent Hollingsworth (2013)
Kent Hollingsworth (1930 - 1999) was best known as both the editor and passionate editorial voice of The BloodHorse magazine from 1963 until 1986, whose weekly column “What’s Going on Here?” addressed the most significant industry issues of the day. A graduate of University of Kentucky, Hollingsworth did a tour in the Army and then went to work in 1954 as a news photographer and general sports writer for the Lexington Herald, while also filing weekly reports on Kentucky sports as a regional correspondent for Sports Illustrated. Hollingsworth served as both editor and contributing writer for "The Great Ones," a collection of profiles of elite racehorses published in 1970. Following his tenure at The BloodHorse, Hollingsworth taught equine law at the University of Louisville as a Distinguished Lecturer in the Equine Industry Program, and wrote for the Racing Times and Thoroughbred Times. He served as president of the National Turf Writers Association, chairman of the Racing Hall of Fame Committee, and secretary of the Grayson Foundation, and was honored with the Walter Haight Award by the National Turf Writers Association in 1990.
George F. T. Ryall (2013)
George F.T. Ryall (1887 - 1979) was known to readers of The New Yorker for more than half a century for his meticulous reporting on Thoroughbred racing under the pen name “Audax Minor.” Born in Toronto, Canada, and educated in England, Ryall began his career in journalism as a general assignment reporter for the London Exchange-Telegraph. After emigrating to New York, Ryall was in the right place at the right time to join the staff of the fledgling magazine that bore the city’s name. However, since he was still writing for the World at the time, Ryall adopted a pen name for his articles in The New Yorker (“Audax” was likewise an alias for a famous British writer). Ryall’s column “The Race Track” appeared in The New Yorker from 1926 until 1978, making him the longest running correspondent in a stable of writers that included John Updike, Roger Angell and John Hersey. Ryall also wrote for such publications as The Blood-Horse, Town & Country, The Sportsman and Country Life. In 1973, he received the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association for lifetime achievement.
Jennie Rees (2014)
Jennie Rees covered horse racing for the Louisville Courier-Journal from 1983 through her retirement in 2015 and won Eclipse Awards in four different decades, four as an individual for writing and a fourth as the lead journalist for the Courier-Journal’s 2008 multimedia Eclipse-winning package on horse safety. Rees is also a five-time winner of the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby coverage. A past president of the National Turf Writers Association (now the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association), Rees has been recognized for career achievement by the NTWA, the Kentucky Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders, and Maryland Jockey Club. She has twice been voted Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year. Rees grew up in Lexington, Ky., and is a graduate of Indiana University.
Jim Murray (2014)
Jim Murray (1919 - 1998) wrote about thoroughbred racing and numerous other sports for the Los Angeles Times from 1961 to 1998. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 and was named Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association 14 times. Murray was presented the J. G. Taylor Spink Award from the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987. Prior to his tenure with the Los Angeles Times, Murray wrote for Time magazine (1948 through 1955) and Sports Illustrated (1953 through 1961). He also was a reporter for the Los Angeles Examiner, as well as Connecticut’s New Haven Register and Hartford Times. A Connecticut native, Murray graduated from Trinity College in Hartford. Murray’s legacy is honored today by the Jim Murray Memorial Foundation. The organization provides annual scholarships to undergraduate journalism students. There are currently 28 college journalism programs that participate in the student essay competition for the scholarships.
Steve Haskin (2015)
Steve Haskin served as senior correspondent for The BloodHorse from 1998 through 2015 and later on continued with the publication on a limited basis, continuing his popular “Hangin with Haskin” blog and the “Derby Dozen,” his ranking and analysis of the Kentucky Derby contenders. As senior correspondent, Haskin was The BloodHorse’s lead writer on the Triple Crown races and Breeders’ Cup. In 2002, Haskin was honored with the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association for career excellence in turf writing. Prior to The BloodHorse, Haskin spent nearly 30 years working for Daily Racing Form. He began his career as a copy boy at the Morning Telegraph in New York in the late 1960s before becoming the librarian for Daily Racing Form and finally being named national correspondent and taking over "Derby Doings" from Joe Hirsch in 1994. Haskin is the author of six books on racing: “Baffert: Dirt Road to the Derby (1999); “Horse Racing’s Holy Grail: The Epic Quest for the Kentucky Derby” (2002); “Tales from the Triple Crown” (2008), and three entries in the Eclipse Press Thoroughbred Legends Series, “Dr. Fager” (2000); “John Henry” (2001), and “Kelso” (2003). Haskin also has the distinction of winning five American Horse Publications first-place awards in five different categories.
Raleigh Burroughs (2015)
Raleigh Burroughs (1901 - 1998), was editor of Turf and Sport Digest for 19 years and The Maryland Horse for eight years. He wrote lively racing columns featured in several magazines, as well as an autobiography, “Horses, Burroughs, and Other Animals” (1977). He authored a popular weekly column for The Chronicle of the Horse from 1953 through 1980. In 1963, Burroughs was selected to be the author of “American Race Horses” for the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders’ Association. In 1974, Burroughs was honored with the Walter Haight Award by the National Turf Writers Association for career excellence in turf writing. Burroughs ceased writing in the early 1980s when he suffered an eye ailment, but he became a judge for The Chronicle of the Horse’s annual journalism awards. Burroughs died Sept. 25, 1998, three weeks shy of his 97th birthday, in Homosassa Springs, Fla.
Maryjean Wall (2016)
Maryjean Wall, a three-time Eclipse Award winner and the first woman to be accepted to the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, grew up in Canada before moving to Kentucky in 1966. She joined the staff of the Lexington Herald-Leader the following year and worked for the paper until retiring from full-time duty in 2008. One of the first women to cover thoroughbred racing on a regular basis, Wall won Eclipse Awards for her writing in 1980, 1997, and 1999. She is also a two-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize. Following her retirement from the newspaper, Wall completed her PhD in American History from the University of Kentucky. In 2012, she authored the book “How Kentucky Became Southern: A Tale of Outlaws, Horse Thieves, Gamblers, and Breeders.” Wall has also won the Walter Haight award, the Hervey Award for harness racing coverage, and honors from the Associated Press Sports Editors, as well as awards from the American Horse Shows Association and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association.
Jim McKay (2016)
Jim McKay (1921 - 2008) a native of Philadelphia, became a reporter for the Baltimore Sun before joining that same organization’s new TV station, WMAR-TV, in 1947. He joined CBS in New York in 1950 before moving on to ABC and serving as host for the influential “Wide World of Sports,” which debuted in 1961. One of the most visible and vibrant presences in horse racing media, McKay covered numerous major events in the sport, including the Triple Crown series. His legacy in thoroughbred racing was assured in 1986 when he founded the Maryland Million Day, a series of races designed to promote Maryland’s horse breeding and racing industry. The event was the first state-bred showcase in American racing and has led to numerous other states implementing similar programs. McKay was the 1999 Honor Guest for the Thoroughbred Club of America’s Annual Testimonial Dinner. Overall, McKay won 13 Emmy Awards and was inducted into both the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and the American Sportscasters Hall of Fame. Following McKay’s death in 2008, the Maryland Million Classic was renamed the Jim McKay Maryland Million Classic in his honor. In April 2009, the Maryland legislature passed a joint resolution to officially rename the entire event the Jim McKay Maryland Million Day.
Michael Veitch (2017)
Michael Veitch, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y., native and graduate of Plattsburgh State University, covered thoroughbred racing for The Saratogian and The Pink Sheet for 40 years beginning in 1979. He is the author of three books relating to Saratoga racing, “Foundations of Fame: Nineteenth Century Racing in Saratoga Springs," “Summit of Champions: Thoroughbred Racing in Saratoga Springs 1901-1955,” and co-author of "The Travers: 150 Years of Saratoga's Greatest Race." A longtime trustee of the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame and a member of the Saratoga Springs History Museum’s Hall of Fame, Veitch served as editor of New York Thoroughbred from 1983 through 1994. He has also written for The Racing Times, Daily Racing Form, Thoroughbred Record, Horsemen’s Journal, and Backstretch. Veitch also has extensive television experience, co-hosting the popular “Down the Stretch” program on Capital OTB-TV for 16 years. Furthermore, he is the chairman of the National Museum of Racing’s Historic Review Committee and a member of the nominating committee of the Thoroughbred Division of the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of Fame. Veitch has also done work for the Breeders’ Cup, producing the media guide for the 1985 edition at Aqueduct.
Jack Whitaker (2017)
Jack Whitaker (1924 - 2019), a Philadelphia native and graduate of Saint Joseph’s University, began his broadcasting career in radio before entering network television sports at CBS in 1961. Along with his distinguished coverage of the Triple Crown races, Whitaker is known for his reporting and commentary on golf’s annual four major championships and was a studio host for the “NFL Today.” Whitaker moved to ABC in 1982 and served the network as a reporter for both news and sports. A three-time Emmy Award winner, Whitaker also won an Eclipse Award for National Television Achievement in 1977. He received the Maryland Jockey Club’s Old Hilltop Award for outstanding coverage of thoroughbred racing in 1983 and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 2001. In 2013, Whitaker was presented the Jim McKay Award for excellence in broadcasting by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters.
Barney Nagler (2017)
Barney Nagler (1912 - 1990), a New York City native and graduate of New York University, wrote a newspaper column devoted mainly to thoroughbred racing and boxing for almost 40 years. Nagler began writing for The Morning Telegraph in 1950. In 1972, when The Morning Telegraph ceased publication, Nagler’s “On Second Thought” column moved to its sister publication, Daily Racing Form. Before joining The Morning Telegraph, Nagler worked as a radio writer. He also worked in the 1950s and 1960s as a television producer of sports events on NBC and ABC, including segments for “Wide World of Sports,” the Olympic Winter Games of 1964 and the Grand National Steeplechase at Aintree, England. In 1978, Nagler received the Walter Haight Award for excellence in reporting on thoroughbred racing from the National Turf Writers Association. Nagler authored several books, including the racing titles “The American Horse” and “Shoemaker, America’s Greatest Jockey.”
Joe Burnham (2018)
Joe Burnham (1923 - 1994), a native of Norfolk, Va., was one of the most esteemed cinematographers and television producers in thoroughbred racing history, winning an Eclipse Award in 1972 for film achievement and being recognized by the National Turf Writers Association with the Joe Palmer Award in 1991. Burnham filmed the sport of thoroughbred racing in person through five decades and was instrumental in organizing and archiving decades of historical racing footage. He served as the producer for the Eclipse Awards for 17 years and director for the Thoroughbred Racing Associations Champions Film from 1960 through 1966. Prior to his involvement in racing, Burnham earned the rank of Captain in the U.S. Army. He served in World War II and received a medical discharge after being injured at Guadalcanal. Shortly thereafter he moved to California and began working in the film industry. His association with racing began with filming the daily races and distributing them to Los Angeles television stations prior to the days of satellite transmissions. His early work also included a Warner Brothers short documentary on a jockey that was nominated for an Academy Award in photography.
Tom Hammond (2018)
One of television’s most respected and versatile talents, Kentucky native Tom Hammond began his racing coverage with NBC Sports in 1984 and was the network’s main racing host until 2017. Hammond’s horse racing coverage has included the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont Stakes, as well as "Summer at Saratoga" and the Breeders’ Cup. He has also called figure skating, college basketball, and NFL games for the network. From 1992 through 2013, he served as the lead play-by-play voice on Notre Dame Football on NBC. Hammond’s association with NBC Sports dates to the network’s regional college basketball broadcasts in the late 1970s. His big break came in 1984, when he was hired on what was intended to be a one-time-only basis as a reporter for NBC’s telecast of the inaugural Breeders’ Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. That telecast won the prestigious Eclipse Award. Hammond won a second Eclipse Award in 1996. He also earned an Emmy Award for coverage of the 1992 Breeders’ Cup. Hammond has won additional Emmys for sports broadcasting in 1988, 1992, and 1996. He was the Thoroughbred Club of America’s Testimonial Dinner Guest of Honor in 2008 and was presented the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters’ Joe Palmer Award in 2015. In April of 2000, Hammond was honored as a distinguished alumnus of the University of Kentucky, where he earned both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in equine genetics. In September 2001, Hammond was inducted into the Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame.
Charlsie Cantey (2019)
North Carolina native Charlsie Cantey is best known for her involvement in television coverage of the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup. After graduating from George Washington University in 1968, she began working with racehorses in New York, galloping for Hall of Fame trainers Sidney Watters and Elliott Burch, and schooling steeplechasers for Ronnie Houghton. Following her 1969 marriage to trainer Joe Cantey, she began working for Hall of Fame trainer Frank Whiteley, Jr. and his son, David, for nearly a decade. In 1975, Cantey joined the New York City WOR-TV racing show with Frank Wright and Dave Johnson, becoming one of the first women in such a role. Cantey joined CBS in 1977 and while there originated the “horseback interview.” In 1986, the Triple Crown coverage was awarded to ABC Sports and Cantey joined the network for 15 years. During the early years of her ABC tenure, Cantey moved from horseback reporter to co-host, and when NBC Sports won the Triple Crown contract in 2001, Cantey joined the network for those races, as well as the Breeders’ Cup. During the 1980s and the 1990s, Cantey was simultaneously a member of the ESPN racing broadcasts. Cantey was a member of approximately two dozen Eclipse Award-winning telecasts. In 1995, she received Pimlico’s Old Hilltop Award. In 2000, Cantey was recognized by New York Gov. George Pataki as a Distinguished Woman in Racing. Two years later, she received the TVG Viewers’ Choice Award and was the keynote speaker for the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony. In 2014, Cantey was recognized by the National Turf Writers Association with the Jim McKay Award.
Billy Reed (2019)
A native of Mt. Sterling, Ky., Billy Reed (1943 - 2022) grew up in both Louisville and Lexington, where he graduated from Henry Clay High School before receiving a degree in English from Transylvania University in Lexington in 1966. At the age of 16, Reed went to work for the Lexington Herald-Leader and served in both part-time and full-time capacities. By the time he was a senior in college, Reed was the Herald-Leader’s assistant sports editor. Upon his college graduation, Reed went to work for the Louisville Courier-Journal. He went on to work for Sports Illustrated in New York, where he spent four years before returning to the Courier-Journal as a special projects writer. Reed returned to sports writing and was the sports editor for the Courier-Journal from 1977 through 1986, while also serving as senior writer for Sports Illustrated for 30 years. Reed was a three-time recipient of the Eclipse Award. He was honored with Eclipse Awards in 1979, 1988, and 2008. Additionally, Reed was an eight-time Kentucky Sportswriter of the Year. He was also an eight-time winner of the Red Smith Award for Kentucky Derby coverage. Reed was a member of the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame, Kentucky Athletic Hall of Fame, Transylvania University Hall of Fame, U.S. Basketball Writers Hall of Fame, and the Henry Clay High School Hall of Fame. His writing also appeared in TIME, The Washington Post, Miami Herald, The Sporting News, and the “ESPN College Basketball Encyclopedia,” among many other outlets. Reed also spent time as a radio talk show host in Louisville and made appearances on ESPN, CBS, ABC, the History Channel, and CNN.
Pierre "Peb" Bellocq (2020)
Pierre “Peb” Bellocq was born in France in 1926. At age 19, the French racing journal France Courses gave him national exposure by publishing one of his cartoons of a jockey. Bellocq signed the drawing as “Peb,” a signature that became his lifelong moniker. Bellocq relocated to the United States and in 1955 accepted an offer to work as the staff cartoonist for the Morning Telegraph and its sister paper, the Daily Racing Form, a job he held until December 2008. Along with his work for the Form, Bellocq has been commissioned by numerous racetracks to produce vibrant murals capturing the flavor of the sport. His large-scale cartoon collages became fixtures at tracks such as Churchill Downs, Del Mar, Arlington, Oaklawn, Aqueduct, and The Meadowlands. Bellocq has also produced several books; his first, published in 1957, consisted of 150 cartoons and was titled “Peb’s Equine Comedy.” Bellocq also illustrated the 1969 Joe Hirsch book “A Treasury of Questions and Answers from the Morning Telegraph and Daily Racing Form.” Bellocq has received numerous awards for his work. In 1980, he received an Eclipse Award for his contributions to racing and he was presented The Jockey Club Medal in 2016. Bellocq also received the National Cartoonists Society 1991 Sports Cartoon Award and their 1999 Newspaper Illustration Award.
William Leggett (2020)
William Leggett (1931 - 1996), a native of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., became one of racing’s most celebrated and respected writers during his 30-year career at Sports Illustrated. Leggett earned a degree from Seton Hall University then had a brief stint in the Army before being hired by Sports Illustrated as a researcher and football writer. His role increased to also include covering baseball, college and professional basketball, and both thoroughbred and harness racing. He was eventually named Turf Editor for Sports Illustrated. Leggett, who spent time as president of both the National Turf Writers Association and the New York Turf Writers Association, won an Eclipse Award for his racing writing in 1979. After retiring from Sports Illustrated in 1986, Leggett continued his coverage of the sport as the New York correspondent for Thoroughbred Times and as a columnist for The Saratogian’s racing supplement, The Pink Sheet.
Walter Haight (2021)
Walter Haight (1899 - 1968), a native of Washington, D.C., joined The Washington Post in 1924, embarking on a prolific 44-year run with the paper. He started with The Post as a general assignment reporter and began covering thoroughbred racing for the paper in 1932. He reported on his first Kentucky Derby that year, beginning a streak of 37 consecutive years writing about the event. Haight was The Post’s racing writer and editor for 36 years and held the honorary No. 1 seat in the Churchill Downs press box for his longevity covering the Run for the Roses. A charter member and president of the Maryland Racing Writers Association and a vice president of the National Turf Writers Association, Haight has a career excellence award named in his honor annually presented by the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association. Upon his death in 1968, The BloodHorse said Haight “wrote with glee, for he saw the humor and the drama in the game” of racing. The publication described him as a “jolly man” who reveled in his role as “Aesop of the press box. Some of his funniest stories never made it into print. He could relate to the intricate machinations of past-posting a bookie, or the heart-breaking collapse of a four-horse parlay, with an admixture of merry pathos that kept listeners enthralled for hours.”
Jack Mann (2021)
Jack Mann (1925 - 2000), a New York City native, began his writing career in 1940 while in high school for the weekly Long Islander. He attended Columbia University for a year on the GI Bill and served with the Marine Corps from 1943 to 1946 in the North Pacific during and immediately after World War II. In 1947, he returned to newspapers as a reporter and editor of two Long Island weeklies, then joined Newsday, first as a reporter, then as assistant city editor, then as sports editor. Specializing in coverage of horse racing and baseball, Mann wrote for Newsday (1952 to 1962); The Detroit Free Press (1962 to 1963); The New York Herald-Tribune (1963 to 1965); Sports Illustrated (1965 to 1967); The Miami Herald (1968 to 1970); The Washington Daily News (1970 to 1971); The Washington Star (1971 to 1972); The Baltimore Evening Sun (1980 to 1990); and The Racing Times (1991 to 1992), among others. While sports editor at Newsday, Mann led the section’s transition from having a local focus to one that covered sports nationwide. Mann won an Eclipse Award in 1987 and was honored with the Walter Haight Award from the National Turf Writers Association in 1993. He also received the Maryland Jockey Club’s Old Hilltop Award for lifetime achievement. Mann also authored the 1966 book, “The Decline and Fall of the New York Yankees.” Along with racing and baseball, Mann also covered professional football and did freelance work for Look, Life, People, and Penthouse magazines, among others.
Jay Privman (2021)
Jay Privman, a resident of Carlsbad, Calif., covered his first race in 1980 — Spectacular Bid’s victory in the Malibu Stakes — while in college at California State University, Northridge, and working part-time for The Los Angeles Daily News. Privman worked for The Daily News full-time from 1981 through 1991, then became West Coast editor for The Racing Times (1991 to 1992) and West Coast correspondent for The New York Times (1992 to 1998). He also was a correspondent for The Thoroughbred Record and The Thoroughbred Times (1983 to 1998) before joining Daily Racing Form in October 1998. Along with his distinguished print career, Privman has served as a television reporter or handicapper for several networks and host of “Thoroughbred Los Angeles,” a Saturday morning show on AM830 KLAA. Privman is a six-time winner of the Red Smith Award (1989, 1990, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2008) from Churchill Downs for the best Kentucky Derby story; a two-time winner of the David F. Woods Award (2002, 2013) from the Maryland Jockey Club for the best Preakness Stakes story; and a two-time winner of the Joe Hirsch Award (2010, 2016) from the New York Racing Association for the best Belmont Stakes story. Privman’s Breeders’ Cup awards include six Joe Hirsch Awards (2001, 2003, 2005, 2015, 2017, 2018) for news reporting and the Bill Leggett Award (2017) for feature writing. Other honors include the Old Hilltop Award from the Maryland Jockey Club (2005); Walter Haight Award, from the National Turf Writers Association (2005); induction into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (2011); and the Charles W. Engelhard Award, from the Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders (2016). Privman has also been a reporter on eight Eclipse Award-winning broadcasts: three each with ESPN and NBC and one each with Sirius Radio and Fox Sports West 2. He is the author of the books “Breeders’ Cup: Thoroughbred Racing’s Championship Day,” and “Del Mar at 75” and a contributing writer to the Daily Racing Form book “Champions.” Privman retired from Daily Racing Form in 2022.